Chiang Dao Cave

Chiang Dao Cave in Chiang Mai

Chiang Dao Cave excites at the very entrance. First you walk along a path under colourful lanterns and then over a bridge over a turquoise lake so clear you can see the bottom with every detail.

This beautiful start is just the beginning of the attraction. The cave itself made a very big impression on us. We didn't expect it to be so big and interesting. 

How to get to Chiang Dao Cave

Chiang Dao is a province located about 75 km north of Chiang Mai. The province is home to Thailand's third highest mountain, Doi Chiang Dao. The cave entrance is located on the slope of this mountain.

It takes about 1.5 hours to get from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao by road 107. In Chiang Dao, turn left onto road 3024, which leads up to the cave itself.

Don't miss this view along the way

Góra Chiang Dao Tajlandia

Before we arrived at our destination, we stopped for something to drink and something sweet at Pronto Caffee with a fantastic view of Chiang Dao Mountain. A very pleasant place where you can even have a solid meal. From the café to the cave is literally a three-minute drive.

Chiang Dao Cave

Stunning Chiang Dao Cave surroundings

Chiang Dao in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Heading to the cave we drove through Giant Trees Alley, a section with very tall trees that is a local tourist attraction. From there we drove straight to the car park.

Walking from the car park along the way, we passed beautiful structures and temple statues to finally reach the alley leading to the entrance of the cave, over which colourful lanterns moved by the wind hang. 

A colourful lantern-lined alley leads to a covered wooden bridge over a beautiful turquoise lake.

chiangdaocaveentrance
Chiang Dao Cave

The lake was formed from a stream flowing past the mountain. The water in the lake was incredibly turquoise, clear and calm. One could easily see the bottom. There were pink and red dragonflies flying around the lake. Just like in a fairy tale. 

However, we decided to go further after a while and see what the cave hides.

In the Tam Maa Cave in Chiang Dao

The cave at Chiang Dao is very large and actually consists of a complex of 5 caves:

  • Tam Maa (entry with guide only)
  • Tam Kaew
  • Tam Phranon 
  • Tam Sua Dao
  • Tam Nam

Source: thesunsight.com

We entered the cave, crossing a short corridor on the way, and entered a large, bright cave with a shrine (Tam Suea Dao). I thought that was it, but then we were approached by a guide who offered, for a fee, a tour of Tam Maa, which cannot be entered on your own.

We agreed and it was a great decision. We entered the black corridor that led to the 750m long Tam Maa cave (at least that's what it said on the signs). The guide had a kerosene lamp with her and this was the only source of light. 

jaskiniachiangdao
Tam Maa can only be entered with a guide

It was warm and humid inside the cave and this impression was heightened by the darkness all around us. We followed a guide who led us through the larger grottoes and several narrow, cramped passages.

The ground in the cave is very comfortable to walk on and is also suitable for children. In the cave, there are limestone formations almost everywhere, taking on amazing shapes, and in some places water seeps from the walls and ceiling. 

formacje skalne w jaskini Chiang Dao
Rock formations
In the Tam Maa Cave in Chiang Dao
One of the two narrow passages at Tam Maa in Chiang Dao cave

Finally, we came to a place where the guide offered two options. We could either leave the cave already or walk a little further to the grotto with the shrine. We went further, of course.

After seeing the shrine, we headed towards the exit. And this is where the stairs started, the real ones though. We had to descend a rather steep and high staircase a few metres down. There are railings on the side, but you still have to be careful and in some places you have to bend down a lot to avoid hitting your head on a rock.

Visiting Tam Phranon Cave in Chiang Dao

We went out into the illuminated hall and again the guide informed us that we had two options. We could either leave the cave already or we could walk alone, without her, along the illuminated corridor towards the cave Tam Phranon.

We decided to continue exploring and went to Tam Phranon, about 250 metres long. Inside this cave there is a temple and various statues. When we reached the 'No entry' sign, we had already retraced our steps to the exit and left the underground. 

wejście do jaskini Tam Phranon w Chiang Dao Cave
Entrance to Tam Phranon

After the temple exploration, we went out into the bright sunshine to admire the lake for a while longer. The contrast between the underground and that intensely blue lake and the greenery around was awesome.

At the stall next to us we bought fish food. The vendor advised us (in Thai) to go a little further away, closer to the building with the toilets because there is a special feeding area there. I've marked everything on the map I've attached at the end of the post.

What you need to know about Chiang Dao Cave

  • As there is a temple complex inside and around the cave, you should dress appropriately to show respect for the site as well as to be comfortable exploring.
  • In the part of the cave accessible only with a guide there is no light source, it is a bit muggy, warm and humid. There are two very small but thankfully short passages along the way.
  • We paid for entry: 40 baht per adult and eldest daughter. The younger children entered for free.
  • It costs 200 baht to enter the cave with a guide. Guides do not get paid, so it is recommended to give them a tip. I believe 100 baht is the minimum.
  • There are plenty of food stalls around the car park, so you can stop there for a meal
  • The water in the lake is blue and clear in the dry season. This is why it is better to visit a while after the end of the rains. 
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Chiang Dao Map

We visited Chiang Dao on the fourth day of our trip to Chiang Mai, having already seen such amazing places as Sticky Waterfall and Wat Pha Lat. I did not expect that this cave and its surroundings could surprise us so pleasantly. The whole area is very interesting, with many hiking trails, campsites and hot springs. 

It is worth considering an overnight stay or two in Chiang Dao.

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